Allyson Felix is a mom to 3-year-old daughter Camryn. It’s a role Felix loves, as the accomplished athlete has frequently cited her daughter as her inspiration. However, the pair’s journey shortly after childbirth was not an easy one. In a recent interview, Felix opened up about her daughter’s NICU stay shortly after birth.
Felix recounted the experience during an episode of PEOPLE’s podcast Me Becoming Mom. The athlete, 36, said that she was admitted to the hospital at 32 weeks pregnant after her doctor found she had a severe case of preeclampsia. Felix told the outlet that the next two days were the most frightening of her life and included an emergency c-section.
Felix shared that her daughter weighed 3 pounds when she was born. “She was itty-bitty and she had all the tubes and there was an IV. And when they’re that small it had to go through her head,” she told the outlet. “And so, obviously she’s hooked up to all these different things. And I would soon learn what all of that meant.”
The moment when she and Camryn were separated is one Felix described as “traumatic.” She explained they took Camryn away shortly after the c-section surgery. “I barely got to see her face. I remember there was this quick moment where they put her on my shoulder and I remember we had made the decision that my husband would go with her,” she shared. “I was talking with him for a second, I was like, ‘I didn’t get to see her face. I didn’t really get to see it’…And it was this traumatic moment for me where I had imagined this skin-to-skin moment and this beautiful thing and it was like, okay, I just had a baby, but where is she? Is she okay? It just wasn’t how I had imagined it to be.”
While Felix spent eight days in the hospital, Camryn was kept in the NICU for a month. “I think that’s probably the worst. Going home from the hospital without a baby. It’s like, this is just wrong,” she said in the episode. “I was learning that the NICU is just such a heavy place…And we’re in a pod and we have our own room, but there’s also all these other families that are in this situation. And you’re seeing the severity of some people’s situation. There are some good days and there are some days where parents are losing children.”
Having a child in the intensive care unit can be incredibly hard. If you or a loved one has a baby in the NICU, know you’re not alone. And if you’re looking for some help navigating the NICU and the emotional stress it can bring, check out these tips from experts and parents who’ve been there.